Clashes break out over mosque toilet in Aligarh, two dead, 25 families flee
At least 25 Muslim families have fled an Aligarh village after a dispute over a mosque toilet sparked communal clashes and arson that left two people dead, officials said on Saturday.
A firewood shop was burnt down on Friday night despite additional security personnel deployed in Khurrampur Nagla Mewati village, about 20 km from Aligarh.
Sources that said about 155 Muslims who fled the village are unwilling to return as tension ran high in the area. The village had an estimated 2,000 people before the clashes on November 9.
One person, identified as Ramveer Sharma (50), died on Thursday in the hospital, while another person, identified only as Hasin, was killed in crossfire during the clashes. Sharma was injured and admitted to a hospital where he died, officials said.
Sharma, 50, had allegedly led a group of Hindus to demolish the toilet attached to a mosque when the clashes started. The toilet was constructed on his land, allegedly without his knowledge.
The death of Sharma sparked fresh tension when several BJP leaders reached the hospital with their supporters and later blocked a key road with the body.
The blockade was lifted only after the administration stepped in.
Family members and his associates said he had been seeking the administration’s nod for demolishing the toilet for a long time.
Aligarh district magistrate Rishikesh Bhaskar Yashod said he has sought documents to clear the confusion over the toilet land.
“We have assured the family of action on their demand... A decision will be taken soon,” he told HT.
Hindu Mahasabha leader Sachin Sharma blamed officials for the situation and demanded sacking of the Vijaygarh police station officer.
“Since six months we were making rounds of administration offices to get the toilet removed from our land but they did not act,” said Suman, wife of Ramveer.
Muslims, however, blamed Hindu leaders of politicising the incident.
“Politicians, particularly from BJP, are giving it (the incident) a communal colour. As MPs and MLAs have interfered in the incident, the administration is under pressure. Muslim families have deserted the village leaving behind their domestic animals. We will only return to the village when the administration guarantees us security,” said Aslam, a relative of Hasin.
Another villager, Ashok Singh, said the clashes has broken the village’s centuries-old communal harmony. “The administration should deal with the incident in an impartial way,” he added.